Art, Culture and Design

New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Art, Design and Culture presents the importance of art and creativity education in K12 to deliver a better prepared workforce, catalyze community revitalization, launch cultural districts and cultivate creative hubs. The National Governor’s Association 2012 Report promotes the importance of design linking art with science with the environment for cultural sustainability. delivers informal design thinking, research and making opportunities to nurture imagination across broad bands of population.

Many countries are recognizing the importance of design and the built and natural environments. The United Kingdom’s Design Council shares the latest thinking on design with economists, educators, architects, designers and policymakers at the table. They work to support and shape community spaces with sustainable practices, redesign community services to make them more efficient and pleasurable to use, and stimulate opportunities for new enterprises.
United Kingdom’s Design Council
Singapore Design Council
India Design Mark
OBJECT Australia

design + the brain

Learning by design develops critical thinking, investigative skills and analytical reasoning. It looks for patterns in diverse bodies of information asking individuals to build new sets of understandings. Design learning is motivational because it moves beyond memorization to selective experimentation and actualization of ideas. This exciting way of learning ignites the imagination, develops agility, learns from failure, and engages participants emotionally. Emotional learning is motivated learning. Design introduces eco literacy and helps develop personal affinities with the earth through outdoor activities. It connects learning to culture and sense of place developing stewardship and sense of purpose. Design learning incorporates digital fluency with access to and use of broad cultural practices to make and share meaning, and to create, communicate and collaborate. introduces the transdisciplinary nature of design as essential to developing 21st century skills that support individuals learning, working and leading in a rapidly changing world.
The Dana Foundation for Brain Research
Born to Learn 21st Century Learning
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Dr. Howard Gardener’s Seven Signs of Intelligence
Changing Paradigms in Learning
Sir Ken Robinson and RSA Animate animate wonderful understandings about what education was, is, and could be.

design + creativity

Design is possibility. Design rethinks, re- envisions, re-propositions what we do and how we live. Design looks at the interaction of pattern, structure, and process of the built world and natural world as the very stuff of life.

Design is everyday. Every morning, noon and night we encounter and exist in a designed world. The places we live in, the things we use, the work we do, all has been designed by someone, somewhere, sometime.

Design is important. If more people were more informed about design thinking and design issues our built environment would be improved. Yet design education (awareness, understanding, application) is almost non-existent in our current educational system.

Design is how we interface with objects, systems, and environments. Design mediates how we address well-being as individuals, as communities, and as a global society. Design ultimately defines our relationship with nature, and inevitably our existence on earth.

Design makes transdisciplinary STEAM connections between diverse fields of knowledge. Teaching design encourages learning from the world, engaging the world and finding ways to improve the world. Using design as K12 methodology channels student led interest and experiences into ideas that inform the content and daily process of teaching and learning.

29 Ways to Stay Creative
IDEO’s HCD (Human Centered Design) Create Pdf
Enquiring Minds
Design Thinking For Educators
Standford d.School

design + environment

Earth Day Educators Network
National Environmental Education Foundation
California Education and the Environment Initiative
Center for Eco Literacy
Architecture 2030
United States Green Building Council
The Cloud Institute

design + engineering

For the first time in American science standards, the NEXT Generation Science Standards integrate engineering design into the K-12 science curriculum. In tandem with the goals of, the new standards encompass the design process – what design is, what design does, and why design is important. Throughout the three dimensions of the NGSS Framework – the Cross-Cutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices, and the Disciplinary Core Ideas – the NGSS recognize that “it is the iterative cycle of design that offers the greatest potential for applying science knowledge in the classroom and engaging in engineering practices.”

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Committee on Conceptual Framework for the New K-12 Science Education Standards; National Research Council. National Academies Press; NRC 2012, pp. 201-2

##eGFI-Dream Up the Future##

design + STEAM

Design combines science and art and mediates diverse information across natural and artificial systems. It offers processes that open complex interactions and morally charged decision making in relationships with each other, with the built world and the world we encounter. Design facilitates relationships between the physical and social environment; the advent of sustainable design practices proposes solutions to social problems, provides conscientious living strategies and creates local and global ecological perspectives.

Technology + Our Planet
STEM + Our Planet
Engineering + Our Planet
NEEF ROOTED in MATH Info Graphic
eGFI-Dream Up the Future
STEM Education Data + Trends
STEM Career Bingo
Digital Literacy

design + science

Design is a dynamic process. It was first recorded as a verb in 1548 in a written citation. Merriam-Webster (1993: 343). Forty years later it appeared as a noun. Merriam-Webster (1993: 343). As a verb or integrative process, and as a noun- a product, system or environment, design by people is human intent. Designers move thought into action. Architecture and the products of design practices can be seen as constructed ideas.

“Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Herbert A. Simon, pioneer of computer science and artificial intelligence

In 1969, Buckminster Fuller understood design as the creation of things, industries and the universe as a whole. His definition of design stressed an ever-present, underlying sense of order, a cohesive “wholeness” and the presence of intelligent thinking. With his “anticipatory design”, he also understood the significance of design for a humane, sustainable future. In 1963, Buckminster Fuller coined the term ‘Design Science’.

Design Science…”the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment in order to help make the Earth’s finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet.” Buckminster Fuller The Buckminster Fuller Institute
Buckminster Fuller’s DESIGN SCIENCE Primer

design thinking

Design thinking involves using insight and imagination to introduce new ideas to improve situations or relationships. Intuition complements the process of rational thinking with subconscious thought patterns moving between convergent (focused) and divergent (open) thinking. Analytical assessment, testing, and evaluation of ideas involve perseverance and reason.

Design is conceived through critical ideation, evaluation, in a series of steps, events or activities. Design as a process is often non-linear, complex, and involves simultaneous interaction of multiple levels of information.

Design typically results in a product or system of products. The product of the design process can occupy physical space, like an object at a wide range of scales. It can be time-specific, like a performance or it can be conceptual, like a theory.

Design-Based K12 Education Program developed by Charles Burnette and tested in the '80s to 90’s at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
IDEO’s DESIGN THINKING for Educators Pdf Download

design research

Design research builds the network for design thinking. Design research offers many avenues for beginning to think about design. Thinking about making something moves us from what we already know to what we do not know and need to find out. This is a giant step that needs to occur individually again and again to build confidence in moving into unknown territories. Take a look at Born to learn and venture….into unknown territories…where the right answer is yet to be determined.

observe, engage, experience

By observing human behavior in settings we can learn about what is working and what could be improved. By interacting with users of space through interviews or surveys or word maps, we gain insight into human perception. Finally by experiencing what other people experience gives us first-hand information.

ask questions!

who, what, why, where when and how! Be curious. Collect information.

doodle, sketch, draw, diagram

Doodle ideas, processes, connections. Sketch environments. Sketch scenarios of activities. Draw spaces and objects and people. Diagram relationships over time.


Taking pictures of a place helps you have a record and to contemplate a place from afar. It also helps record details you may have not seen the first time or may have forgotten. If you plan to use your photographs be sure to ask permission before clicking away!

SWOTs strengths+weaknesses+opportunities+threats+

After observing a situation over time and with different input, we can develop a SWOTS chart to evaluate existing strengths, weaknesses, site opportunities and note threats or conflicts in making changes. Once you have reflected on the SWOT, you can add an additional S for suggested improvements!


Capturing live video of an object or environment assists the researcher in observing and evaluating use over time. As with photography, ask permission when necessary before shooting video.

design making

Designers have many ways to materialize information, object, environments, and experiences. As the design process is an investigative and iterative exploration and study, experimentation, and proposition, designers use many ways of making to study, communicate and reflect on ideas.


There are many kinds of sketching/sketches used in design, including idea sketches, study sketches, referential sketches, memory sketches, coded sketches, information sketches, sketch rendering, and prescriptive sketches.

Sketches are done as part of concept design at the most visually creative stage to facilitate speed and spontaneity.


Drawings are created to study process, sequence, composition, image, physical and spatial relationships, experience, material connections, and construction instruction. Building on ideas developed in sketches, drawings include scenario, storyboard, layout rendering, presentation rendering, diagram, perspective drawing, general arrangement drawing, detail drawing, and technical illustration.

Drawings are part of design development and involve a process of selection and refinement to ensure that designs will meet project specifications.


Animations are used to illustrate events and experiences over time. Designers use animations to tell a story, to reveal changes in design over time, to communicate cause and effect relationships of dead and live forces on a design.

Animations are used to represent information, objects, environments, and experiences all throughout the design process.


Models are models created to study and communicate mass, form, volume, detail, and experience. Examples of models include sketch models, design development models, functional models, operational models, appearance models, assembly models, production models, and service models.

Models are part of embodiment design by selecting the most suitable designs to evaluate based on technical and commercial criteria.


Examples of prototypes iterative process include experimental prototype, alpha prototype, beta prototype, system prototype, final hardware prototype, off-tool component, appearance prototype, and pre-production prototype.

A prototype is part of a design detail that supports final testing before manufacturing and carries the design through the specification of material selection and assembly.

digital computation and fabrication

Architects and designers study relationships between design computing and physical output used for design representation and reflection with rapid prototyping and CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) fabrication.

design process

As a noun, design refers to an object or system of objects.

As a verb, to design, refers to a process, or series of activities that intend to create positive change.

The nature of design is collaboration. Every design process connects to larger groups of people in actualizing change.

intend – problem statement/identification of a set of needs, directions, activities
define – research and gathering of information to inform direction
explore – conceptualization of approaches
plan – development of concept(s) towards pre-production
produce – prototyping and construction of alternatives
evaluate – quality assessment and testing
integrate – delivery and feedback from user
FROG Collective Action Tool Kit Pdf

design learning

Design education is a socially constructed landscape that connects teachers and students with their immediate communities. Because everything is designed in the classroom, around the school campus, and in the school’s community, students need to learn to experience the wonder of their immediate natural and built world. This is an important first step in engaging with a place and creating place-based learning experiences.

Understanding the principles of ecology and experiencing them helps students acquire a sense of place (Capra, 2006). Today most school students have been introduced to notions of rainforest or glacier depletion; yet most of these students could not name the grasses, trees, birds, or insects on their school grounds nor tell where the food in their lunch came from or water in their local watershed. While most states study local culture in response to 4th grade standards, students do not necessarily re-engage local culture to learn local economies. Placemaking is a design tool that creates a sense of ownership in a public place by attracting and connecting people to a specific location. While space is defined as an area, a place is an attraction and a destination. Without public space, there is no public life. Most cities are defined by their public spaces. Public spaces often grow to symbolize a community, a city or an entire society’s identity. The integration of place-making design projects allows students to learn from their immediate surroundings and connects them to a specific location at a specific time. Place specific design projects are excellent vehicles for connecting students to their surroundings and engaging them with their communities. Projects that connect local commerce with K12 students build relationships between community residents of all ages.

Design education lays the seeds for imagination and establishes a foundation for future entrepreneurial economies. Merriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as “the organizer of an economic venture” and “one that organizes, promotes, or manages an enterprise or activity of any kind” (2010). Dr. Edward L. Glaeser, Harvard Department of Economics and Dr. William C. Strange, Rotman School of Management University of Toronto, believe entrepreneurs to be dynamic agents of change (Glaeser, Rosenthal & Strange, 2009). They report that entrepreneurs often seem to have been significantly influenced by features of their local economies; they are affected by the environment they grow up in, and in turn, they have a place-based influence on those economies.

Design education allows the teacher to become a facilitator (Meredith Davis, Peter Hawley, Gertrude Spilka, 1996). In the seminal book, Design As A Catalyst for Learning, Davis found that design education in the United States was basically nonexistent. Almost twenty years later, only three states have Art and Design Standards (WI, MI, NJ). Yet design incorporates science, art, humanities, social sciences, math, and language arts. It incorporates essential 21st-century skills of critical thinking, adaptability, creation, and communication.

Design is project-based learning.

MY PBLWorksBuck
Design As A Catalyst for Learning, Meredith Davis
DESIGN-ED:Relevance, Innovation, Change
Design Learning Network
DiscoverDesign: A Student Design Experience
Eco Literacy Foundation
Metropolitan Planning Council Place Making

design standards

The environment, both natural and built, comprises our landscape for learning. While schools play an essential role in education, people actually spend more time learning in their lifetime outside in the built and natural environment than in the classroom. Natural environments and architecture present endless possibilities for full sensory learning experiences for learners of all ages. Architecture contains knowledge of history, geography, sociology, psychology, science, mathematics, semantics, literature, painting, sculpture, music and technology. UIA reports that architectural thinking integrates, visual and non-linear problem solving and research across complex fields of information. Critical thinking, sensibility, spatial awareness imagination, responsible citizenship, cultural literacy, social relevance, and environmental stewardship are all subjects that are addressed through the study of architecture. UIA Union of International Architects Built Environment Education Guidelines PDF

While Canada and the United Kingdom have mandated K12 Design Education Standards since 1995, only three states in the United States (Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Jersey) have incorporated design learning standards. See how journeys address and fulfill Wisconsin art and design standards.
Wisconsin Art and Design Standards PDF Journeys + Wisconsin Art and Design Standards PDF

In addition, Journeys are aligned with North American Environmental Education Standards as the design of the built environment impacts the natural.
North American Association for Environmental Education Standards Journeys + NAAEE North American Association of Environmental Education Standards PDF

Architecture integrates STEM fields across the stages of an iterative define, design, build, process. NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS incorporate 21st century systems approach to solving real-world issues that connect learning about the built world as we find it with the world that we can imagine.

NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS + NGSS Primary K-2 Standards Alignment.PDF + NGSS Elementary 3-5 Standards Alignment.PDF + NGSS Middle School Standards Alignment.PDF

designing K12 design education

It is the nature of design to redesign. The American K-12 education requires redesign in response to the complexities of evolving economic, social, technological, and political needs of the 21st century-educated person. Children are future leaders and education serves to assist them for lives of purpose in today’s world. The traditional three “Rs” -reading, writing, and arithmetic-no longer alone equip children for the challenges of today. Children are called upon to recycle, re-use, rethink, relate and respond in new ways. In a world that changes faster than the mind can comprehend, education needs to redesign delivery and content to best prepare children to be adaptable and creative citizens. American K-12 education needs design education to instill ethical imagination, to raise focus and relevancy, to introduce failure and fun.

Design to Improve Life

design interviews appreciates practicing designers sharing their expectations and experiences.

design fields

What I want to be (make) when I grow up

Design fields are constantly emerging. New tools and news way of knowing generate new ways of creating. introduces information, object, environment and experience design opportunities.
Get Into Design

The American K-12 education system needs graduates to be designers and creative problem-solving individuals. Dr. Howard Gardeners’ Five Minds for the Future include “the disciplined mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind and the ethical mind” (2006). Disciplined minds continue to develop expertise in discrete subjects. Synthesizing minds activate ideas from different disciplines and systems and integrate diverse approaches. Creating minds encounter new contexts and situations and strategize new opportunities. Respectful minds are open to different points of views and cultures. Ethical minds develop many purposes for individual contributions to society. The designing mind works best when integrating all of these minds together. Young imaginations are the future. We must allow individuals opportunities to interact with the world and engage with the world in propositional ways- ways that when tested have the potential to fail as well as to succeed. As an alternative to struggling standardized testing, design pedagogy opens up diverse solutions and creates objectives of relational value. Ken Robinson agrees we must not let “the classroom kill creativity” (2001). Creativity is a 21st-century necessity for students to discover the connections between themselves, their talent and their ability to contribute to the world.

information design

object design

experience design

environment design